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Hockey Star Paul Henderson: There is a Good Side to CLL

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Published on July 14, 2015

Former National Hockey League (NHL) hockey player Paul Henderson joins Patient Power one again, this time at the CLL Live 2015 conference in Niagara Falls, Canada, to give an update about his life with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Paul shares his outlook on living well with CLL, what he feels is the “good side” of cancer, and how his diagnosis made him a better husband and father.

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Transcript | Hockey Star Paul Henderson: There is a Good Side to CLL

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

Hello and welcome to Patient Power.  I'm Andrew Schorr.  Well, previously, about three years ago, I interviewed this famous man, hockey player, Paul Henderson, who scored the goal that all Canadians know about. And, Paul, since 2009 you've been dealing with CLL, and you're taking ibrutinib (Imbruvica).  How long has that been now? 

Paul Henderson:

I got into a clinical trial in—at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, in the summer of—it will be three years this summer. 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  How are you doing? 

Paul Henderson:

Doing very, very well.  Saved my life, I think.  

Andrew Schorr:

So you're here with everyone else learning about the latest, and it must give you confidence that you've gotten a very modern medicine, maybe there are more that's coming or letting—you can live your life. 

Paul Henderson:

Exactly.  I think that I—I think I try to offer people hope, and the hope is that you just stay alive long enough, and maybe we'll find a cure.  And obviously I was lucky.  I mean, we didn't know—when I got into it, we didn't know what the side effects were, whether it was going to work or not, but it turned out to be wonderful.  So my wife and I are back here trying to encourage other people that, man, if you get a chance, and you have CLL, ibrutinib is a good—is a good option. 

Andrew Schorr:

Right.  And there are others too, as you…

Paul Henderson:

…oh, for sure.  For sure, and there's more coming down all the time.  I mean, in the next—I would suspect in the next year there's going to be something better than ibrutinib.  

Andrew Schorr:

Right.  Right.  The right medicine for the right person at the right time. 

Paul Henderson:

Exactly. 

Andrew Schorr:

So your outlook with CLL.  It's a chronic—truly a chronic condition.  You just go on with your life. 

Paul Henderson:

Well, I mean, obviously there [are] side effects.  We call it sleeping with the bear. And if we could just keep the bear asleep, we'd be doing okay, but I—you know, I take one day at a time.  I mean, that's all anybody has.  I get up in the morning, I unashamedly ask the Lord for a little help, let me get through the day and help me try to be a blessing to somebody else.  And so—I don't know what the future is like, and so I don't get concerned about the future.  I got today.  I'm going to live the best way I can. And if tomorrow shows up, we'll take a shot at tomorrow.  

Andrew Schorr:

I want to ask you about something you just touched on.  I understand you're a pretty spiritual guy.  

Paul Henderson:

Oh, very spiritual. 

Andrew Schorr:

How has that helped you living with cancer? 

Paul Henderson:

Oh, the help is amazing because when you—I tell people, when you have hope and you have peace, I can handle anything.  And the hope I have is this life is not the game, it's simply the warm?up for the game.  I know I'm going to die.  I mean, everybody is going to die at some point, and the reality is we have—just have today, and so I'm not worried.  I've got no fear of dying, but I try not to waste a day. 

And there's a peace.  It's a wonderful peace that you have to just be at peace, and I think that comes from my walk with the Lord. And I know that—well, it's a promise in the Bible.  God says don't fear about anything.  He said just trust me, and we'll get through it.  And so that's what I've done. 

And so I just trust Him, and down the road you go, and—but it's just—but the other thing about cancer—the good side about cancer, you can differentiate between the trivial and the important a lot quicker.  And so I'm a far better husband, a far better father, maybe even a far better friend, and so there's a good side of cancer, too.  I mean, you understand how fortunate you are.  I mean, living in this continent that we live on, we are so fortunate.  Living in Canada.  I mean in the United States, I've got four American son?in?laws and four American grandchildren, so I include the U.S. in Canada. 

Andrew Schorr:

Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Paul Henderson, it's great to see you doing so well.  On location in Niagara Falls, Paul Henderson and me, living with CLL, but living well.  Thanks for watching. 

I'm Andrew Schorr.  Remember, knowledge can be the best medicine of all. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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